After failing last week to get a photo in time, I left myself with only five days to get this week's picture. Fortunately, both our front and rear gardens provide lots of opportunity for great shots, thanks to letting them run wild and allowing all manner of creatures free reign.
First, we spotted a ball of spiderlings, recently hatched, on a rather intricate three-dimensional web in the holly bush.
When we first saw them, they were huddled up in a perfectly round sphere, right in the centre of the web. I blew gently on them and they fanned out across the threads. I took this while they were scurrying back to form the ball again.
Then, the next day, I was taking the recycling out, and I spotted life in the front yard! This is something of a rare spot, as the front is a boring paved square covered over with a mound of nettle-filled earth I dug out of the back garden a couple of years ago. I had intended to dispose of it altogether, but it was a very hot weekend so the soil only got as far as the front yard. Where the nettles have thrived!
I spotted this little fellow as I was closing the wheelie bin... what on earth could it be? I took a closer look...
They were everywhere I looked. Some still in the caterpillar-like larval stage, some in the middle of the changing pupal stage. Very carefully, I tried to get a closer look without stinging myself.
They're ladybirds! I've never seen ladybird larvae and pupae before. I was very excited. I had no idea what species they were, so I hunted around until I found an adult.
It's a Harlequin Ladybird, which a quick Googling has informed me is an incredibly aggressive, invasive species which is rapidly spreading across the UK and potentially endangering our native ladybird species. Check out this website for more info, identification guides and the ability to report sightings so they can track the spread. I have reported mine.
Bad for the environment or not, they certainly provided me with plenty of options for a photo of the week! And here it is, in all its glory:
Can you believe it, they are even pupating (is that a word?) on the wall of my house!